Small Steps: Basement Clothesline

Like most readers of this blog, we are striving to live lighter on the land. We watch our consumption, drive fuel efficient cars, offset our carbon emissions with green energy, and grow alot of our own food. One thing that we struggle with here was discussed to some degree in the last post. Our home is new, and full of new appliances. Most are Energy star, but that is a far cry from the cutting edge of efficiency or renewable options. But removing a working refrigerator or furnace seems ridiculous and is hard to justify and budgetary grounds when other options still present themselves for impact reduction.

One of those remaining Green Options was finally implemented this week thanks to some seeds planted by fellow  bloggers. Our kids are sick and we are running humidifiers to control their coughs so I have been thinking about humidity.  Then I go downstairs to run the dryer, pumping hot, humid air out into the ether. This seemed ridiculous. Take that a step further, for every cubic foot of air pumped out through the dryer vent, a commensurate volume of cold air must be brought into the house only to be heated by our NG furnace, which further dries the air. That is just dumb.

Here is my $15 clothesline solution, very similar to thousands others out there:

We have an unfinished basement, so it was easy to install.
Here is the item list:
  • 4′ steel angle iron, cut in half ($5)
  • 2 pulleys ($6)
  • 5/16″ carraige bolts/nuts/washers ($.50)
  • 5/16″ lag screws ($.50)
  • 50′ of clothesline. ($3)
Here is a close up of the pulley. As you can see, the 22′ run of the clothesline is stretching the line badly, I advise gettingthe coated wire line to reduce sag.
The 22′ run holds enough for one load and dries in about 24 hours without any fans. By mounting it directly above the washer, we can now hang clothes right from our front loader without walking anywhere. Slick! Savings from 2 winters worth of dryer sheets will pay for the materials, and of course the energy savings are significant.
One final thing, we have one heating vent running into our basement. This is open and helps to circulate the air out so that it does not get too humid down there and cause issues.

10 Responses

  1. Cool setup. If you ever do need to run the dryer in winter, you can divert that warm, humid air into the house with one of these

  2. Thanks E4!

    We have a NG dryer and research that I did when we bought the home led me to believe that there are some concerns about carbon monoxide emissions on the NG dryers. The products do mention not to vent NG dryers into bathrooms or bedrooms for this reason, but I’d rather not risk it at all. Our son had a really rough start due to a severe laryngolmalacia at birth, and have been pretty paranoid/overprotective ever since.

    For electric dryers on things like bath towels that could use some “softening” in the dryer it would be great.

  3. That is a great idea. We have been thinking about an indoor cloths line for a while and have never put the wheels in motion. We’re planning a trip to the hardware store this afternoon; some pulleys and line might have to make it on the list. Thanks.

  4. We also hang our clothes to dry in the laundry room, but we use a regular closet-type clothes pole and plastic hangers. We can hang practically every shirt and pants we own at once in a 7′ wide space. Never sags, no clothespins. Things like jeans and t-shirts get a cold-air tumble in the dryer after they’re dry. Only small items like socks and undies get dried in the dryer.

  5. You inspired us. We picked up clothesline this afternoon and will string it up tomorrow. We have one of those accordion-style folding laundry racks, but that really only works for skivvies and socks. Now we’ll easily be able to air dry an entire load. Nice!

  6. Emily, the 7′ wide sounds great, but our cheap plastic hangers wouldn’t cut it I fear!

    Meg/Kelly that is great to hear! I know I will be looking to return the favor this spring in asking lots of chicken advice if we go forward with the chicken tractor plan. I really liked your chicken “composter”

  7. Great point on the non-electric dryer exhaust issues…

  8. I like that it is so close to the dryer, nice and convenient. We installed a rack in one of our skylights:

  9. Cool!

    We have drooled over this one for awhile ( but don’t have cathedral ceilings. We thought about the basement, but we were unsure about cold and damp and dark. Will be interesting to hear how it works out long term.

    In the winter we usually just put the big stuff on portable racks up in our bedroom perched near ducts…but then we still run dryer for the rest…hmmmmm we might need to add a basement system, and in March when we start seedlings down there the moisture might be a good thing!

  10. Thus far things are going well. no condensation in the basement, but again, we have one vent that circulates some of the air down there up into the house.

    Average dry time thus far is about 24-36 hours for most cotton clothes. Ambient temp in the basement is mid/high 50’s. Nice thing is that it prevents me from letting the laundry pile up – as the line only holds one load, I need to do a load every other day or else fall behind!

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